Bask in the light of the full moon in Rocky Mountain National Park this Sunday 12/3.
What better a way to get into the holiday spirit!
Photo Credit: NPS/Russell Smith
The Rocky Mountain Rangers lead Full Moon Walks in the winter months, the first one this coming Sunday. Groups leave from Beaver Meadows at 5 pm. Reservations are required and can be made in person or you can call the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center at 970-586-1223. Maybe there will even be a little fresh snow from the system that passes through Sunday - fingers crossed!
"I think that's what I like the best is understanding more about how things work, and what's living there, and how it interacts with all the other organisms in that system."
- Erin Borgman
The National Park Service's video series, Stay Curious, most recently selected and interviewed one of Rocky Mountain National Park's very own. Erin Borgman is an NPS Ecologist and Field Coordinator with the Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Division. In short, her job is to keep a close eye on the vital signs and overall 'health' of important streams and rivers within the park. These bodies of water are the most important resource to the park's habitat and wildlife inhabitants, making her mission a crucial one!
Check out the video below to learn how Erin began down the path of Ecology sciences and the advice she has for anyone else trying to discover their place in the world around them.
With more people, families and groups venturing into Rocky Mountain National Park than ever before, you may be wondering how park rangers, staff and volunteers do it...
How do they keep all the pieces in place?
What challenges do they face?
And how can I help?
Thanks to Miles Barger, a visual information specialist for Rocky Mountain National Park, you can now learn so much more about the park and all the people who look after it. Throughout his career in park services, he has been constantly reminded of the deep love and curiosity that visitors have for national parks and wild places - but it isn't just about the wilderness itself. When it comes to national parks, visitors develop the same feelings for the people that look after them! With that in mind, Barger and his coworker Hope Ozolins created a team and a structure for a brand new podcast called Rocky Mountain National Podcast.
Listeners will enjoy 10 episodes per season, each one an hour long. The first season's focus will be on different park personnel, starting with some of the most beloved to park visitors; rangers and other educational and interpretive program leaders. He discusses things like why they became involved in national parks, what they do within Rocky Mountain National Park and some of the unique knowledge they impart on others. Personal stories blend with park information, news & updates, and specific information on planning a trip to the park.
"We are always looking for ways to reach other audiences and new tools to give people the information they want about the park," Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for RMNP, said.
100th Birthday RMNP birthday cake - Kyle Patterson
Barger hopes to continue evolving the podcast to include a mini-series within the main season; shorter segments that focus on something more specific, like a research project or a current concern. The first 4 episodes are out already - take a listen for yourself!
Ranger Program - Snowshoeing
Season 1, Episode 1: A Love of the Mountains with Kathy Brazelton
Join Kathy Brazelton, an East District Naturalist, in the Upper Beaver Meadows, as she shares her life as a ranger, ranger programs, various signs of spring and more.
Season 1, Episode 2: Chillin' in the Alpine with Cynthia Langguth
Ranger Cynthia Langguth teaches us about the interesting world of the alpine tundra. She'll teach about marmots, pika, ptarmigan and everything else in the land above the tree line...
Season 1, Episode 3: Gettin' Wild on Rocky's West Side
Explore all that the West Side of Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer with rangers Maci MacPherson and Michele Simmons!
Season 1, Episode 4: With Kyle Patterson
What does the Public Affairs Officer for RMNP actually do? Join Kyle Patterson and explore what he does, day in and day out; sharing news and messages, dealing with current issues at the park, and even how you can help keep the park beautiful for generations to come.
Erik Stensland, an Estes Park resident and photographer, visits Rocky Mountain National Park regularly to photograph all the beauty within; spring flowers, sunsets and waterfalls overflowing. Like many creative nature enthusiasts, Stensland prefers to wander outdoors in solitude.
"I just need silence to rethink things. It keeps me whole and sane. I need that time of personal reflection." - Erik Stensland
Though you aren't going to become his best hiking buddy, Stensland is willing to share some of his wisdom when it comes to taking photographs while venturing through the park. And it's advice you'll want to take!
Tip #1 - Timing is Everything
Aim to photograph your desired subject or area when the light is warm. If you can shoot within 15-20 minutes of sunrise or sunset, you'll be amazed by the results. More people prefer sunrise photos than sunset photos, due to the clarity during that time of day. Winds die down and urban activity slows significantly during the night, leaving a window of time just before and during sunrise that provides a more clean and clear atmosphere.
Tip #2 - What Are You Shooting?
It's easy to become distracted by everything around you and before you know it, you've taken 300 photos in the first 15 minutes of your hike and you're late for that sunrise shot you'd planned on getting! Before you head out, be very clear about what the subject of your image is. Why did you come out today? What did you hope to photograph? What was the overall feeling you wanted to convey with this image? Focus on one clear subject and you'll hike home feeling triumphant.
Tip #3 - Learn to Love Cloudy Days
Sure, it may go against your nature to hope for clouds in the sky as you pack up for a day outside. But in Stensland's opinion, if there aren't clouds in the sky, it isn't worth going out with your camera in tow. "Clouds really create the emotion in the image", he says. Subjects such as waterfalls and shadowy forested areas benefit greatly from the diffused light that grey skies bring. Clouds truly are nature's softbox, so take advantage of overcast days!
He sells his images online and in various galleries in New Mexico and Colorado. If you're more of a social media guru, he shares images daily on his Facebook and Twitter with inspiring messages attached for you to enjoy (free of charge!)
Wouldn't it be nice to have a place where people can come together and commit to learning about the world around them in thoughtful, sincere way? Sitting on 180 acres near Ward, Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center welcomes participants from near and far to do just that!
“For me in this dark time, Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center will be a shining beacon I can trust. I see it offering what we most need: the inspired leadership of committed teachers, a wild mountain setting to awaken our own power and beauty, the ripening of a Sangha to grow a guiding vision for our people, and the strength to make it real.”
- Joanna Macy, Ph.D Engaged Buddhist teacher
(Video Credit: Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center)
The land is composed of a private river, meadows and woodlands adjacent to the Arapahoe National Forest and mere miles from the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Their mission is to provide a space for low-cost meditation retreats and workshops, surrounded by and focused on nature. The scheduled programs that the group is most excited about are:
Open House Activity Day - July 16th - Join in for a full day filled with community, mindfulness and the beautiful nature that the center sits on. Families are welcome and the event is free, though donations are always appreciated.
Ecodharma Retreat with David Loy & Johann Robbins - August 4th through 13th - This meditation retreat encourages exploration into social consciousness and promoting caring, wisdom and compassion rather than anxiety and anger.
The center has no paid staff and runs solely with the help of many volunteers, giving their time and expertise to the cause. Click HERE to learn more about the team, their volunteers, and how you can become involved.
There's a brand new bluegrass festival in town! If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, head up to Estes Park for their inaugural Mountain Music Festival on Saturday, May 13th from 12 - 9pm. Held in the Estes Park Events Complex, this festival will feature both national and local bands, and promises to be a great time for everyone.
The event is a fundraising effort for the Estes Park School District's various music programs, which include the state champion marching bands, middle and high school bands, middle and high school choirs, and elementary music programs. It is truly a grass-roots effort, organized for and by the community of Estes Park. Community sponsors include The Rock Inn, Snowy Peaks Winery, Twin Owls Steakhouse, Rock Creek Tavern & Pizzeria, Inwell & Brew, Estes Park News, and many more. The festival's aim is to combat low funding in music programs and get ahead of the ever-increasing costs of such programs.
"There is a large body of evidence showing that a quality music program raises test scores, (and supports) higher level thinking and performance in many other core areas, as well as social inclusion," says Cynda Basch, Estes Park High School secretary.
Estes Park's Mountain Music Festival lineup is below...
Front Country - Headliner, Americana
Rapidgrass - High-Energy Bluegrass
Bonnie and the Clydes - Rocky Mountain Country Soul
Chain Station - High-Energy String Band
Monocle Band - Bluegrass Fusion
Bella Betts and Will Thomas - Bluegrass Prodigies
Tickets are available for purchase HERE online. Want to make it into a weekend getaway? Click HERE to check out local lodging options that allow you to soak up the Estes sun all weekend long.
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to black bears, which are also the largest and least frequently seen mammals within the park. There are an estimated 20-35 bears currently living in RMNP, but previous studies have shown that the park is a poor habit for them, naturally speaking. It's believed that the area was attractive to the animals because hunting remains prohibited within the boundaries. Bears do what bears do; they eat lots of wild fruits that grow within the park, such as choke cherries, currants, raspberries, grapes and juniper berries. Afterwards, well.. They do what nearly every other living thing does.
RMNP rangers decided to try something new this year, and used the abundance of bear scat to the park's advantage!
A member of the park's vegetation restoration crew collected scat throughout the park last fall, and volunteers took time planting it in the park's greenhouses. No one was sure what exactly would come of it, if anything - but there truly was no downside to this experiment. Everyone was pleasantly surprised when the seedlings began sprouting, which have now reached a count of over 1,200 total.
"Animals are great seed dispersers and of course, what does in one way goes out the other," the park said on it's Facebook page. "After defecation, seeds are left in a rich, moist medium that nourishes the growing seedling."
Most of the seedlings appear to be Oregon-grape and chokecherry, which was a surprise to the team. Chokecherry has a very thick, hard seed coat that is difficult to germinate in typical greenhouse conditions. Thanks to their trip through a bear's digestive system beforehand, that coat was broken down in the process, allowing for successful growth.
The plan is to plant the Oregon Grape seedlings in an effort to rehabilitate the areas disturbed during the replacement of the park's main waterline in 2016.
If you dream of being a volunteer at the Rocky Mountain National Park, click HERE and take the next steps! There are opportunities for individuals and groups alike, and they are always in need of help and community involvement.
If you spend a lot of time in Rocky Mountain national Park in the winter months, or are simply curious about cold weather survival (should the unthinkable ever happen), this is your opportunity! Join the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute on February 4th to learn about prehistoric, historic and contemporary strategies for surviving in RMNP in winter.
Doug Hill, found and director of Gone Feral School of Primitive and Traditional Skills, will lead the course. At Gone Feral, Hill focuses on experiential learning and aims to connect participants with the natural world. Hill will lead participants through the basics, short and long term survival strategies, and then test their skills outdoors before finishing with shelter building and fire starting in snowy conditions.
If you'd like to register, click HERE or call 970-586-3262. Non-members cost $80, and members cost $76.